Making Children Visible

Making children visible

The general population in Nepal does not take birth registration seriously. They only do the process when they feel they need it. The value is often not understood, with them seeing it as a legal formality and not seeing the relevance for the development of the children including access to education and future services. The communities lack awareness as well as support by the local authorities. There is also, the problem of lack of supporting documents for registrars to use. The process is further complicated when you have parents that are missing, or one or both do not have their own registration or one or both are originally from India, or parents are not married. All these reasons make some of the cases more complicated.

Also, sometimes the official procedures vary in practice. This includes what supporting documents are required or there is ambiguity on what the term ‘head of the family’ means (whether it has to be the father or could be the mother if the father is not around). Then registration may be required to happen in the district when where the parents came from and these can be remote rural districts (which takes time and money to get to). There are further challenges of local registrars not always being present at stations. If the registration is not done in time this results in penalties which parents of SCC are not keen to pay. But also, registrars can be slow, and the process delayed which then results in penalties (which can be seen as a positive as more money is made). The process is often very bureaucratic and so it is difficult for street-connected children to comply with. It can also take so much time and parents and children are in need of getting their daily income and so cannot give time to the birth registration process.

Recently, the Nepal government has made birth registration document compulsory to join formal schooling and you cannot apply to sit the grade eight exam without providing birth registration document. This has raised the importance of this issue slightly However, still many street-connected children end up prioritizing daily survival over both education and legal registration. However, SathSath has been supporting children to enter education and so legal documentation is important to help these children stay in education.